If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone complain about a contractor who hasn’t done the job right, or hasn’t scheduled enough time for the job, or walked off the job in the middle never to be heard from again, leaving a mess in his wake, or who has taken so long to get the job done that an important deadline has been missed, etc., I’d be a wealthy woman.
The cold, hard fact of the matter is that not only are there a lot of bad contractors our there, but the average contractor doesn’t give a rat’s patoot about you, Jane or Joe Homeowner.
Sure, some are better at business than others and do recognize the importance of taking good care of their customers no matter who they are, and there are in fact some really fabulous ones out there – but the reality is that every single one of them is going to go on to their next job when finished with yours, while you are probably only going refinish your floor or redo your bathroom or put on an addition once in your whole life, and chances are you’ll forget who they are anyways the next time you do decide to do something to your house.
You hear endless horror stories about contractors and remodeling, too, because the average homeowner simply doesn’t know what to look for or how to hire one and ensure the job gets done right, on time, and on budget. Most people simply have no clue about what they don’t know until they find themselves in the middle of a big, expensive mess.
Most people also go about a remodeling project backwards, by hiring a contractor first, and then letting the contractor essentially end up dictating how the job gets done, only giving him very vague instructions. If you do that, you will end up with problems, and not with what you want, because it is absolutely essential to have the design completely finished and fully spec-ed out in every tiny detail down to the door stops, cabinet hinges, and edge trim on the countertops before you go out to bid. If you don’t, you won’t even be able to fairly compare bids because each contractor will be making it all up in his own head as he goes along since you haven’t specified everything. Incomplete design will always lead to cost overruns and a job taking far longer than you expected even if you hire the best contractor in town.
It’s not really a personal failing if you find yourself in this kind of position; you just haven’t had any reason to know before, and we are simply not all experts in everything – nor should we be. This is simply not your area of specialization.
Interior designers, however, not only do specialize in this stuff, living, eating, sleeping, and breathing it for decades on end, but we also get the design finished down to the last detail before putting it out to bid so that you can compare bids fairly. We know every detail that has to be planned.
We also maintain solid working relationships with usually several top flight general contractors – and most importantly, those are ongoing relationships. This breeds loyalty as it does in any field in which collaboration and partnership are part of getting the job done successfully.
We do know how to assess who is good and who is not, and how to level the playing field in the world of obtaining bids. We have backups we can call in quickly if an insurmountable problem does arise with one contractor during a job, and that does happen sometimes, even with the best of them and the best-planned projects. We know which contractors are best for which types of job, and only refer ones who we know are definitely committed to excellence and customer satisfaction.
We are able to realize economies in working with a contractor that you can’t because of the working relationship one develops when doing multiple projects together, and because of having already-shared common professional ground and knowledge. When you work with someone regularly, and you share a professional knowledge base, you learn each others’ strengths and weaknesses, how they think, etc., and that ends up saving time, which saves you the client money – oftentimes a lot of money.
These ongoing working relationships also help us during the design process. We can get feedback from the contractor about ways to do things that might save money well before the design is finalized and the work started. The most successful projects that involve construction actually start off with the designer and contractor collaborating right from the beginning. It is always, always, always cheaper for you-the-client to change a design on paper before starting construction (or purchasing) than once things are underway.
But most importantly in some ways, and a big part of why these relationships matter to you the client, is that contractor knows that if he doesn’t get the job done right and take good care of the designer’s client, and absolutely get that work done in time for her to put her house back together for holiday visitors if that’s what is promised, the designer is simply not likely to call on him again for her next job.
And the designer will have a next job for him, while you simply probably won’t.
Which means, practically speaking, that he’ll take her call even if he might not take yours. He’ll be more likely pull guys off another job to finish yours if necessary where he might not without the designer being part of the equation. He’ll simply take better care of you in every way since he’s probably a better businessperson to start with than the one you might find on your own, but also because he definitely wants to keep that designer happy so she will bring him her next project.
A good designer and contractor combination will also be able to tell you up front if the job can be done in the time frame you have in mind or if you’re dreaming and need to come back into the land of reality – before you even tear your house apart and start, or break ground on a new one.
And a good designer will know to warn you about things a contractor might not – like how you need to plan on a certain level of cost and time overruns, and build them into your plans and budget.
These overruns do still happen even with the best design and best contractors, because there are many things that can crop up in the course of even the best-planned project that no one on earth could ever foresee, but you simply minimize the chances of them (and the extent), and certainly minimize the likelihood of the most predictable problems cropping up when you work with an experienced designer who already has established trade relationships.
If you’re ready to get going on that remodel or new house that you’ve been thinking about for so long, and want to make creating your dream home or room as easy on yourself as possible, saving yourself both time, money, and aggravation with one stop shopping, freeing you up to take care of other more important things in your life even while your project progresses, please contact me by clicking on the “Contact” tab above. I look forward to working with you!
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